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Old 09-10-2008, 08:09 PM   #1
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Heroin addiction vs. FAS

We know of a situation wherein a baby was born heroin-addicted. I was thinking I had heard that this is actually preferable to fetal alcohol syndrome, but I can't remember if that was what I heard or if it was the opposite (or neither... maybe they're both equally difficult?).

Anyone have any experience with either of these?

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Old 09-10-2008, 09:24 PM   #2
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

I would like to know the answer to that, too. My guess would be it would be totally dependent upon the amount of substance abuse during the pregnancy and when it occurred.
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:51 AM   #3
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

I don't know about the heroin but FAS is very difficult to deal with for both parent and child- for a long time. I'm thinking that your assumption is correct. We know that bmom used drugs and not alcohol with J and he doesn't seem to have any delays or difficulties. But she was clean for the last 4 months. Praying for this little baby!
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:47 PM   #4
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

I had read that it is preferable for hard drugs instead of alcohol, not that you would wish either on a fetus, but you asked.
Sad, but yes FAS is terrible to deal with and it is still relatively unknown for special education and programs like like there is for autism for example.
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Old 09-12-2008, 01:42 AM   #5
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

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Originally Posted by greenMImama View Post
Sad, but yes FAS is terrible to deal with and it is still relatively unknown for special education and programs like like there is for autism for example.
It's relatively unheard of to get services for FAS because parents do not disclose that information. The only time I ever hear about FAS or being born addicted is when the child is in a foster situation with a non-relative. No parent ever wants to say, "I did this to my child," and unfortunately it is exactly that. There are a few we suspect have FAS, but the parents will not confirm it. Usually if they have it, they have a learning disabillity too and would qualify for services under that.

IMO both are equally bad long term, higher risk for addiction or use when older, learning disabilities, cognitive deficiencies.
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Old 09-12-2008, 05:34 AM   #6
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

the worst thing to do while pregnant is alcohol. heroin addicted babies can develop like normal or even exceed normal. not saying that it's SAFE but FAS is REALLY bad. :hug:
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:33 PM   #7
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

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the worst thing to do while pregnant is alcohol. heroin addicted babies can develop like normal or even exceed normal. not saying that it's SAFE but FAS is REALLY bad. :hug:
Yep. Soooo sad (either way) but FAS is way worse than drug addiction. We adopted our first DD from Russia so we did a LOT of research on FAS/FAE.
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:55 PM   #8
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

Our DD is from Russia also, and FAS/FAE is more common in that area of the world. We wanted to be prepared for the possibility.

I think the biggest thing to consider is that a child with FAS has FAS. A child born with a heroin addiction may have complications (learning disability, predisposition to addiction, etc.), but there is no guarantee.
So in that respect FAS is less desirable.

The truth is though that fetal alchohol exposure or heroin exposure can result in a huge spectrum of impact on the child.
FAE is more commonly seen with mild learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD. (and other therapy managed issues)
FAS is something that results in facial abnormaities in varying degrees, more severe learning disabilities, etc. (some not overcomeable)
The spectrum is so vast and there are so many issues that can fall under the umbrella of FAS/FAE. It's best to look at each case and assess from there.
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Old 09-12-2008, 09:21 PM   #9
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

We have had experience with drug affected and FAS with several of our foster babies. We have had the opportunity to watch them grow in their adopted homes (oldest is 8).

One of our FAS babies was born at 35 weeks at 3 lbs and diagnosed in the delivery room (very rare, but she had the "facies" and mom confessed to large amounts of alcohol on almost a daily basis). She was adopted by a wonderful mama and has an older adoptive sib with FAS. Both are considered severe - but they are very different little girls! I think the amount of stability they have after birth can hugely impact them. Our little "Anna" is very smart, does not have impulsive issues, and does not qualify for services - she tests out of them. She is very tiny in stature and very much has the characteristic "facies" still. Her older sister stayed with birth mother for first 6-7 months and has severe learning delays, impulsive issues, and other problems. Granted some of this could be genetic, etc. also - but I highly believe environment can greatly impact.

Our various drug affected babies have all required special intervention as well. All have had various degrees of learning disabilities and struggle with varying degrees of ADD/ADHD- but they are not "bad" children. Again, all of them were in a "stable" environment with early intervention from birth.

For anyone deciding to move forward with either diagnosis, I highly recommend good "support services" - an excellent Pediatrician with early access to PT/OT. Expect lots of hurdles and learning delays - then you can do a "happy dance" for each problem that you DON'T have, but won't be devestated for the ones you do. You also will need very stable respite providers. One of our cocaine affected babies could easily cry for 4 hours at a time - which can massively wear out the most stable adult!!!

It is very hard when they have the inutero exposure to decipher what behaviors are "them" vs. which ones are the "exposure" KWIM??

Amount of exposure can also greatly affect them. Daily use vs. weekend or occassional use can impact. Some drug affected children don't show problems until preschool age.
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Old 09-15-2008, 02:19 AM   #10
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Re: Heroin addiction vs. FAS

I am a recovering addict-I now care for babies that are born addicted/affected by drugs and alcohol. Alcohol damage is permanent-although kids can overcome certain problems. The brain damage doesn't go away though some of the physical traits of FAS they start to outgrow in appearance. With Heroin, babies have a tough time withdrawling and need to be medically supervised. When the Heroin is out of their system-I know from experience with Oxycontin addiction and recovery that with support you can put the disease and cravings into a sort of remission. Although Heroin sounds like the worse of the two alcohol is far more permantly damaging to the human cell. Don't get me wrong-they both are serious conditions but long term and permanent affects of alcohol are horrible. I have cared for both types of affliction and the Heroin babies seem to be the more miserable in the beginning-more behavioral stuff in FAS later on in life. Perscription drug addiction-ie pain pills is so prevelent now in the upper middle class-so many times these moms slip through the cracks for fear of persecution that they don't seek treatment.
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